As any liberal could tell you, the separation of church and state was written into the Constitution in 1773. Rest assured, it’s in there… no need to go looking for it. It is a wall made of massive granite blocks and topped by electrified razor wire, towering over a moat filled with ACLU lawyers. The barrier between mosque and state, however, is paper-thin, at least in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma recently passed a law barring courts from considering sharia, the Muslim religious code. A representative of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, just won a temporary injunction to block the law, which enjoyed 70% support from voters. Hearings for a permanent injunction are scheduled for November 22nd. You might think such a popular and provocative bill would have drawn the full attention of the court system, but you would be wrong. State Senator Anthony Sykes, who co-authored the law, says State Attorney General Drew Edmonson did not respond to the suit, and has thus far refused to comment to the media.
It may be unfair to judge Edmonson harshly, since attorneys are very busy people who practice a complex discipline. That’s why we have government-controlled health insurance, but not government-controlled legal insurance. Edmonson is being replaced as Attorney General, and is doubtless too busy with the transition to respond to the highest-profile lawsuit in recent history. Also, highly-anticipated videogame Call of Duty: Black Ops will be released tomorrow, so he might already be in line at the local GameStop to get his copy.
The supporters of the Oklahoma law cited the rise of official sharia courts in Britain as the reason for their defensive legislation. There are sharia courts in several major cities, including London, and the government has quietly given them authority as “arbitration tribunals.” Back in 2008, the Times of London reported the lord chief justice endorsed sharia courts for settling “marital and financial disputes.”
Islam is an aggressive religion that has made remarkable progress against lazy Western governments, and a culturally exhausted ruling class. For example, the religious injunction against depicting the Prophet Mohammed is strictly obeyed by the same elite which throws screaming fits over nativity scenes, unless one of the donkeys is the one from Shrek. There is good reason to insist on the supremacy of American law, and doing so is not a random insult to Muslims. It’s not an issue Oklahomans conjured from thin air.
Clumsy nonsense about excluding religion from public life, on the authority of nonexistent Constitutional clauses, is very different from the reasonable insistence that people of all religious faiths must respect secular law. This does not prevent the free exercise of religion. In fact, it is a requirement for the free exercise of faith in a pluralistic society, or else religions would interfere with each other, and that never ends well.
Sharia courts are a Muslim tradition that has already come into conflict with the legal structure of Western nations… and prevailed. If such courts gain official power within the United States, Islam will join environmentalism in coming dangerously close to the sort of “official” religion the First Amendment really was meant to prohibit. It’s an important issue that should not be settled by the inertia of a dysfunctional bureaucracy, or the reluctance of multiculturalists to discuss it.